Cling To The Hope Of Spring

The same exact tree in Spring and Winter

look very different.

One looks like death

One looks like life

One looks like the end

One looks like beginnings

One looks old

One looks new

One looks barren

One looks full

One looks hopeless

One looks hopeful

If we find ourself stuck and looking at the dead barren tree of Winter without the hope and anticipation of the coming of Spring we can’t move into the abundant future God has for us.

Seasons of life will come and go.

Some seasons our soul sings loudly “It Is Well” while other seasons our soul doesn’t seem to sing at all.

We MUST keep singing as though it is well even when nothing feels or looks well right now.

We MUST get a vision of our Winter tree in the Spring.

How does the trees weather the storms of life and the changing of seasons?

Roots!

Stop looking at the outward appearance of the tree.

The roots are what really matters.

We MUST stay grounded and rooted in Christ.

Cling to the hope of Spring …. it’s coming!

~XXOO Michelle Bollom

Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation.

Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness.

Colossians 2:7 VOICE

Image – Pinterest

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A Time For Everything 


“There is a time for everything.”

I think I’ve heard this phrase over 100 times. I’ll be honest, I haven’t always appreciated it, but I found myself rejoicing in it this week.

In one glorious day my oldest daughter had her 23rd birthday, I attended the Baccalaureate service for my next oldest daughter, my middle-school daughter played her final softball game of the season, and my youngest daughter tumbled through her gymnastics recital. Oh, and my third-grade son competed in a track meet. Did I leave anyone out?

“Whew” allow me to take a breath as I recap the day.

Needless to say, I don’t believe I accomplished much at work. And that was okay . . . that day required time to participate in the various seasons of my children’s lives.

It hasn’t always been easy for me to just get up and go, choosing the right thing, over expectations of others, or of….myself.

But God has been speaking and my ears are perking-up in anticipation. I have no idea what awaits or where He will lead the next year, I dont even know what tomorrow will hold. What I do know for sure is that God has given me a new direction to my life. A new direction for His purpose.

For some reason, in this season, I find that I am at peace with this. There is actually an excitement stirring, even within this great unknown.

My faith and hope lie behind things yet unseen and I believe HIS treasures are hidden for those who believe to discover as we search for Him. Each new season is packed with new treasures to be found.

What season does the Lord have you in? What treasures are hidden for you to discover?

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV) says, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

Dear Heavenly Father,

I come to you in thankfulness for every season that has brought, and continues to bring me closer to you. I rejoice in the ability to experience time, memories and your treasures. My heart is overjoyed in every new discovery of your wondrous nature. Thank you for every season, good or bad, because it allows me to understand more of you. May I continue to learn who you are in every season.

In Jesus Name Amen.

~ Baring His Beauty

    Tiffany Thomas

Highway To Holiness 

  
The enemy desires to twist every step we take. Satan wants to stop us from receiving God’s Spirit and Glory. He blinds our eyes so that we are unable to see the truth and plugs up our ears so we cannot hear the truth. 

We need to be cautious not to carry a “religious spirit” because a religious spirit attempts to hinder the release of signs, wonders, and miracles. It can twist the truth concerning present day revelation and the different ministries of the Holy Spirit that cause many people to cling onto old doctrine remaining in their religious “Comfort Zones“, rejecting all the present truth concerning God’s divine moment and movement upon the Earth right now. Let us not be deceived by a religious spirit. 

Many are pursuing God’s presence and His glory everyday trying our best to not allow the religious spirit to trap us. Tossing tradition aside and moving beyond man’s mindset and seeking the fullness of God’s Spirit.

God has been reconstructing my life for as long as I can remember and yet He has remained faithful to lead me on His path of holiness that releases increase and knowledge. I am in the process of learning to celebrate the changes God requires of me. With each change I am learning to depend upon the Holy Spirit more and more as I grow stronger and stronger with each new change. As I continue to move forward I am walking into my destinies and possessing my promises. The Highway of Holiness is a road of abundance and healing. God will protect us with a vengeance as we travel on His Highway of Holiness. 
We will have open eyes to see and ears to hear Him by His Spirit. We can go forth with joy, singing and Thanksgiving!

Lord, I pray that as I travel along Your Highway of Holiness that I am confident that You Lord, have prepared this highway of life for me and even though at times I feel lonely and weak, You have promised to strengthen me. When I am weak You are strong. You always come in with a mighty vengeance to save me from my enemies. Even when I know I’m experiencing a wilderness season, I also now know the roses will still bloom. You, Lord will place joy in my heart because You love me with Your everlasting love. Purify my thoughts, my deeds and my actions. Lord, I am thankful for the blood that cleanses me. I plead the blood of Jesus over my life and home. I am so thankful for Your perfect direction.
Amen.

❤️Michelle Smith 

Which Way Do I Go ?

  
I don’t know

Which way to go.

Right? Left?

Near? Far?

Familiar? Not?

I don’t know

Which way to go.
I ask for

Clarity.

I ask for

Discernment.

I ask for

Wisdom.
If I go

Right,

Am I

Wrong?

If I go

Left,

Is it what’s

Right?
Is it

Near

That takes me

Far?

Or is it

Far

That brings me

Near…

You?
If I stay with the

Familiar,

Will I miss what’s

New

From You?

Or will I find the

Familiar

Hidden within

The new?
I don’t know

Which way to go.

The battle is

Real

And wages a

War

That brings

Emotions

Not to be

Trusted.
With my eyes

On You,

I move.

Right, left,

Near, far,

Familiar, or not,

You are there.
I don’t know

Which way to go.

But with You

There,

How can I

Go wrong?

-S . Gable

Yesterday, Today, And Tomorrow 

  

Sometimes friendships and relationships fade. 

Sometimes during the seasons of life; like the turning of the leaves, the circumstances and people around us will change. 

It isn’t always a bad thing.  

Not everyone can go where God is calling you. 

Sometimes we need a change so we can learn to grow or stand on our own.  

One thing I do know for sure, 

           Jesus never changes! 

Embrace the new uncharted territory you may be walking through. Take comfort in Jesus that will always be unchanged in an ever changing world.

 ~ XXOO Michelle Bollom 

“For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, He’s always totally Himself. ~Hebrews 13:8 MSG

A New Season To Flourish

  

I love trees. I love to see them so tall with their broad, ever changing and majestic crowns. They sway with the breeze in gentle praise.  In the storm, they bow down low in humble worship. 

 

My favorite time to watch the trees is when they are in full array in late spring and of course, summertime. 

 

To watch the trees, I go to “Africa”. 

My front yard is lined with big, flat rocks. Some might call them boulders, but in comparison to the geological wonders here, they are merely big rocks. These rocks are a nice decoration to our yard but also provide a place to sit, something for Cowboy, my son, to climb on, and cool relief to a dog’s belly in the summertime. Mostly, they are a warning of the 30 foot drop on the other side, which if not heeded would surely be a painful tumble down to the Creek Road.  

But I digress …… One of these rocks is marvelously shaped almost identically, like the continent of Africa.  Here is where I sit to contemplate the cosmos, and to commune with my God.

 

It’s been far too long since I’ve visited Africa. Nature has prevented our coming together for nearly six months. Today I was drawn to her; my sprit man yearned for a meeting. I sat down in the warm sunshine. A gentle breeze blew across my face and through my hair. Yes, it was good to be back.  With my face to the sky, I soaked in the sunshine, which had been so very absent from my life as of late. I began to feel lazy and lay down on my side, looking out over the valley. 

 

I could see the tops of many trees, yet had as many more to tower above me as if to keep me humble. Today my trees did not look very majestic. They swayed with the stubble of leaves just beginning, like an awkward adolescent between childhood and man, gangly and sprawling. Still, they moved in quiet praise. I wondered, “Do they ever yearn for spring like I do?” A silly notion of course, impatience in a perfectly designed, life sustaining part of creation, ha! But it led me to consider …..

 

It must have taken much to withstand the winter we had this year. For six months they’ve weathered high winds, snow, sleet, and spent many weeks entombed in ice. As they stood dormant and resting, strong against the onslaught and cruel grip of winter, many lost limbs, big limbs, that had not been strong enough to withstand the trial. Loss which was undoubtedly needed, as the dead wood drained precious life from the healthy tree. Several trees didn’t make it at all.  Yet here they are, continuing life again.

 

Being in a spiritual place right now where everything appears to be the same yet nothing is familiar, I thought about my trees. How beautifully perfect my God is.  I have weathered many storms, feeling dormant and useless at times. Yet the trials have broken off my deadwood, pruning me, getting me ready and allowing me “rest” as God prepared me for growth.  In this new place God is bringing me, I feel like that gangly adolescent, attempting to grow, struggling to understand, and desperately trying to bloom. 

 

I lay on my rock for a long time, telling God how marvelous He Is. Adoring His love and all knowing wisdom for what we need, when we need it. I told Him how marvelous He is to have created such amazing things. In reply He whispered ever so gently, “Yes, but my daughter is the greatest of My creations. You too will flourish again and be green and lush, just as your trees will.”

 

Though at times I’ve foolishly doubted spring would EVER get here this year, logically and in my heart, I knew it would. So I stand, as my trees stand. I’ve withstood the winter, I’ve shucked my deadwood, I’m ready for my spurt of growth, I’m ready to flourish! I don’t have to understand it all. I don’t have to be graceful and never trip, for His grace upholds me.  All I have to do is stand …. stand with all of creation and give my Father praise ….. 

 Just like the trees.

                    ~ Sandra K. Yates 


Make Your Own Bed

  

How many times have you heard the often condescending, tough love, and sometimes, judgmental quote, 
“You made your bed, now you can sleep in it.” 
Where it’s not quite as motivating as 
“You reap what you sow,” I believe most people mean it in a good way. 

I’d like to think I’m not the only person who does this, but some mornings I get up late. I’m in a rush, and making the bed is an everyday, mundane, five minute chore. 
Especially in my current living situation, but really all my life, I’ve felt like if a bed is unmade, it makes the whole room look trashed. Back in the day, if I knew one of the boys’ beds was not made, it haunted me like a sin unconfessed, until I went upstairs to pay penance and made it right.
 For me, making the beds HAS to be done.

When I’ve had a really solid, good night’s sleep, which isn’t often, sometimes the bed doesn’t look that bad. The blankets are pretty much in place rather than the abstract art I generally create during the course of tossing and turning through the night. So, in my rush, rather than strip off the quilt and comforter, shaking the sheets to rid the dust until wash day, and fitting the sheets properly, I’ll “arrange.” 
It goes like this. OK, so if I just give a tug here and a pull there, yeah, I can get it all to line up, but that tug made the comforter uneven and this pull doesn’t make the lines straight, and now I’m back to wrangling the sheets in place. Consequently, I will spend more time trying NOT to make the bed, than it would have taken to do it properly. Inevitably, every time, I end up with having wrinkles in my sheets, uneven blankets, and a completely unsatisfied feeling. Sheesh!

As I was doing this (just the other day), it occurred to me how we try to do this with life. 

When you go through a traumatic experience in life, such as a death in your family, divorce, or even a break up with a boy/girlfriend, there is a mess of stuff left behind. Things get jumbled and mixed up. Feelings, emotions, beliefs, and self-worth get tossed around, kicked about, and confused. One of the mistakes I’ve made, is trying to rearrange all that stuff in a quick fix. Let’s stuff if all under the crumpled covers and pretend it isn’t there. How many people do that?
If you dump or get dumped by someone, all your friends are egging you on with “more fish in the sea,” and taking you out to party and find “the next, better guy.” While in your heart, things are rumpled, confused, and your self-worth is wrinkled. There has been no time to put it into perspective, make things right, and work it out. It’s a quick fix to cover the unsightly mess you’ve just witnessed and possibly helped create. I focus on this particular situation, because it’s the most common one, and also, the most inevitable mistake.
If I have learned anything in life, it’s this. Everything, EVERY THING, is a learning experience. If you don’t take time to learn the lesson, you will go around that same problem, conflict, MOUNTAIN, as did the Israelites, again and again. 
God created us with feelings and emotions, so we would love, give, have compassion and sacrifice …… in a minute understanding of His love for us. We are supposed to feel, hurt, cry, laugh, and experience the epitome of emotion. Society, pride, and defense tell us not to feel. Don’t work through it, don’t learn a lesson here, move on, BLAME, and forget about it.
I’m here to tell you, that’s a trap, a vicious cycle that will only lead to more heartache, not just for you, but for those you will touch thereafter.
There is always something to gain, always. 

With a knowing eye, a father might warn his daughter of a boy who is a player. He sees it. He knows, for it may have been him at some point. The daughter doesn’t listen, she falls for the boy and he hurts her. What does Daddy expect? He expects his daughter not just to adhere to wisdom in the future, but to learn a lesson and gain wisdom from experience on her own.
So our Father expects of us. 
Everyone will experience loss, disappointment, and pain. I would encourage you, especially the younger generation, to pause before you “arrange” the situation. Take time to remove the covers of confusion, get in touch with the reasons you’re feeling how you feel. Investigate why there was a failure, what mistakes you made, how can you avoid making them again. Be honest with yourself and don’t just blame someone or something else. Shake off all the dirt of unforgiveness and bitterness that was left behind, and learn the lessons of failure by doing it right, so you can walk away with a sense of pride. Don’t mask the problem with another man, another relationship, that is already doomed because you haven’t worked through the last failure. 
Don’t make half attempts at life. The road less traveled is sometimes harder right now, but in the long run, it’s so, SO much more rewarding.
Take ……. a breath. Take time. The time you spend recovering will be a fraction of the time you spend repairing.
For everything, there is a season.
     ~Sandra K. Yates 


The Tree 

  


Alone and barren it stands.
A somber sight to behold.
Though hollow and quiet,
Therein lies a secret.

Soon to be set afire by the rising sun,
Its brilliant apparition
Will present a glimpse
Of the life within. 

For dormancy brings rest.
Stillness brings peace.
All foreshadowing the
Beauty to come.
 
A stirring.  A yearning.
A reignited flame.
A newness not to replace,
But to extend.

Full and fertile, it will stand.
A breathtaking sight to behold. 
An evident gift for all
Having eyes to see and hearts to receive. 

-S. Gable

*As my family and I were traveling out of state this past Christmas, I was taken aback by the sight of an old, old tree set way back in the field along the road we traveled.  It stood alone and still.  Kansas was much further into winter than Texas, so it wasn’t a surprise that the depths of the effects of the season were undeniably apparent.  I’m certain the freezing temperatures had more than a little to do with the barren sight before me.  Having caught my eye from quite a distance, I was allowed several minutes to take it all in, and I did just that.  I knew then that there was a significance not to be forgotten , and The Lord planned for me to use it in my writing. Here I am, three months later, and a piece of that purpose is being fulfilled.  With the changing of seasons, this poem has come to light.   I believe, as with trees, God’s people go through times of dormancy, not to become comfortable in hibernation, but to be rejuvenized for the next season in order to grow and fulfill even more than before. There was much more given to me through the vision of that tree, and I look forward to future words He will soon provide.  God bless! -Stephanie 


A Reason To Sing

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When the pieces seem too shattered
To gather off the floor
And all that seems to matter
Is that I can’t feel You anymore
Is that I don’t feel You anymore

I need a reason to sing
I need a reason to sing
I need to know that You’re still holding
The whole world in Your hands
I need a reason to sing

When I’m overcome by fear
And I hate everything I know
If this waiting lasts forever
I’m afraid I might let go
I’m afraid I might let go
I need a reason to sing
I need a reason to sing
I need to know that you’re still holding
The whole world in your hands
I need a reason to sing

Will there be a victory?
Will You sing it over me now?
Your peace is the melody
Will You sing it over me now?

I need a reason to sing
I need a reason to sing
I need to know that You’re still holding
The whole world in Your hands
That is a reason to sing
~Reason To Sing By All Sons and Daughters

When the pieces seem too shattered to gather off the floor, and all that seems to matter is that I can’t feel You anymore…
Last week, I was in a period of grief. No, no one died. I became grieved because I felt cut off from God’s oversight and protection. I was upset and mad because I followed God through something He asked of me and then all of a sudden-He wasn’t there anymore.
There! I said it. For those super-religious types out there who are wondering: No, lightning didn’t just zap me. God didn’t smush me like a bug either. Sorry, guys- He’s not even mad at me.

If this waiting lasts forever I’m afraid I might let go…
I feel like I need to explain.
I have been through a struggling four month season. Think about being asked to tread water for four months and you would get the picture of the level of emotional involvement and exhaustion it feels like I have been under. The message I received during this time was that God was using this series of events to set things right. “OK – Got it, God! While this is very uncomfortable and tiring, that setting things right part sounds really good.” So I waited, and prayed, and died to self…A LOT! And then when I was finished with that, I waited and prayed and died to self…A LOT more. And so on. Do you realize that the whole “dying to self” thing takes quiiiiite a bit of energy for the sometimes controlling perfectionist types, like me?
Well, trust me, it does.
It’s the kind of energy expenditure that tends to leave one physically bankrupt. But it was all good, right? I had my faith in God and that was what would get me through. Those were the words everyone expected to come out of my mouth, and actually did for a while. I believed them and I meant them. Until.
Until the season showed no sign of coming to an end. Until the wearing, pressing events, kept on coming, kept on wearing and kept on pressing. And then I started hearing the proverbial crickets where God’s voice used to be.

When I’m overcome by fear…
Do you know how crazy-scary this kind of thing is to admit, out loud? That, as a Christian, as a child of God, I don’t have it all together…that I can’t feel God near me in this season sometimes…that I can’t feel His tangible protection…that I honestly feel that sometimes that “one more thing”, might be what finally does me in…?

Before you succumb to the voices of the whoever it is in your life (maybe even yourself) telling you that feeling this is wrong and that you need to feel guilty and repent of all this nonsense – bear with me for a moment and hear this part. You are not alone. There are at least four of us: you, me and the writers of this song. Wait-make that five of us…listen to what David has to say to God in Psalm 22:
My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but You answer not; and by night I am not silent or find no rest.
Wait! Make that six…Jesus also repeated a portion of these words from the cross.

I think that God must know what a gift He was giving when He made Jesus human, like us. He did it so we would have a great example of what our right response to life, to Him, should be. If there was an instance that, even Jesus who was part of the Trinity, felt cut off from His Father, then that makes me stop and think that it just might be acceptable for us to walk through and explore this same emotion. It’s a lot like that whole directive to be angry but not to sin thing (Ephesians 4:26). Easy to say, harder to pull off, right?

Do you see where we might get tripped up, though? Because of God’s great mercy, it’s acceptable to vent our questions, our wellspring of emotions, our crying out- but we need to make sure that they are being directed toward God. A friend of mine calls it “venting vertically”. It’s fine to walk through a valley that looks a lot like doubt, but we should not pitch a tent and decide to live there. Our eyes need to be scanning the horizon for our Hope and our Sure Help that is coming. As the old saying goes: God is never a minute too early and not a minute too late. Our default needs to be like Jesus. While He was on the cross, after questioning why His Father had forsaken Him, His next (default) breath was one of renewed faith in the absolute care and wisdom of God. He completed His assignment without complaining. The Bible says He submitted His Spirit and trusted even from the cross. Think of the day or so leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross. He prayed so fervently to God not to take His life that He actually produced sweat drops of blood. He was betrayed by someone he purposely chose to be a close friend. Jesus was wrongly accused and tried right there in His own Father’s House. Even though He knew His assignment, I’m sure He was still desperately looking for a sign or a physical representation of God’s presence – something, anything there in the Temple. He was mocked and scorned by the people God had made a covenant with and whom His Father had given Him rule over. They were called His own and they laughed at Him during His valiant quest to save them. As He was being beaten and whipped, I’m sure He had to consciously keep His incredible strength and power under control. He had to make Himself into the sacrificial lamb.

The devil likes nothing more than to trick us into thinking we are the only ones who feel a deep level of struggle, of abandonment-that we actually have been abandoned. He loves to separate us from the Truth and other believers who would gladly remind us of it. He lies and tells us that these feelings make us unworthy of God’s love. He tells us that we are alone and God has forgotten us in our sad, helpless state-that we are just too broken to fix. He wants us weak, misinformed and to stay stuck in this place of doubt. But what he thankfully never sees coming is: sometimes coming out the other side of a struggle is what cements our faith in God.

I need to know that You’re still holding the whole world in Your hands. That is a reason to sing…
No one can forcefully pull you through to the other side of doubt. No one can make you decide to remember your default setting of faith in God. No one can force you to feel so joyful that you burst into song. It’s a matter of settling some things in your own heart. God heard my cries immediately. He sent help immediately. I finally realized that it was my choice to recognize it or not. Ouch! By the end of the week, I realized that during this whole time, He had sent numerous people, songs, scriptures and safeguarded a time so we could sit quietly together. He showed up. Not in a noisy, flashy way, but almost like a mist rising off a lake. Like the Holy Spirit who was already there with me the whole time. My Father was suddenly…there. As I was crying and tried to rehash the whole situation to Him in apology, all He could do was ask me what I was talking about. You see, He has a very bad memory where forgiven sin is concerned. Yours and mine. No matter the sin.

So, back to our fellow-doubter, David. Here are some conclusions he came to after his wrestle with God on the issue of why, abandonment and silence:

• Look at Him; give him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from him. (It’s ok – God already knows what you are feeling.)

• God’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray. (Even if no sound is heard, God puts protection around us to protect our desire to talk with Him.)

• Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—how good God is. (Look around you, the evidence of God’s presence is everywhere. It’s irrefutable and overwhelming! He’s really not hiding like you think…)

• Blessed are you who run to him. (God’s desire is that when you are in trouble, He wants your default to be that you run to give it to Him.)

• Worship God if you want the best; worship opens doors to all his goodness. (Thankfulness is guaranteed to usher in His presence. God inhabits the praises of His people.)

• God keeps an eye on his friends, His ears pick up every moan and groan.

• Is anyone crying for help? god is listening, ready to rescue you.

• If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath.

• Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time.

• He’s your bodyguard, shielding every bone; not even a finger gets broken. (Gulp! Not even the finger I was pointing in accusation at Him?! )

• God pays for each slave’s freedom; no one who runs to him loses out.

• The Eternal is the source of my strength and the shield that guards me. When I learn to rest and truly trust Him, He sends His help. This is why my heart is singing! I open my mouth to praise Him, and thankfulness rises as song.*

My reason to sing? You know that cage of doubt and sin? He had opened the door a long time ago. He was just waiting for me to realize I was free to fly out. ~Debbie Bouckley

<a href="http://youtu.be/WsLhN-RtSTE&#8221;>http://youtu.be/WsLhN-RtSTE

*Taken from Psalm 34 (MSG) and Psalm 28:7 (VOICE)

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